Fox News and ABC are reporting the Aurora shuttle bus driver at the center of an FBI investigation into a suspected bombing plot has admitted to ties with the al Qaeda terrorist network and is negotiating a plea to terrorism charges. The lawyer representing the 24-year-old Najibullah Zazi called the reports “completely unfounded.”
The reports came Friday afternoon during Zazi’s third day of questioning at the Federal Building in Denver. Earlier this week, FBI and other law enforcement officials searched Zazi’s Aurora apartment and a nearby home belonging to family members but haven’t revealed what, if anything, was found in the raids. Officials have linked the investigation to a search for bomb-making materials earlier this week in Queens, N.Y., where Zazi reportedly visited his old neighborhood after a cross-country drive.
ABC News reported authorities seized a dozen “new black backpacks they suspect were going to be used to carry homemade bombs,” and a laptop computer with instructions for making bombs similar to those used in a series of explosions in London in 2005. This week, officials have questioned 12 New York residents in connection with a suspected terror plot to attack New York subways, The New York Daily News reported.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking to reporters in Minneapolis, said the investigation hasn’t revealed any “imminent threats,” The Associated Press reports.
“The FBI is working this case around the clock in both cities and in other parts of the country,” Holder said. “And we will make sure that if there are crimes that were committed that they will be charged and people will be held accountable.”
Zazi’s attorney said his client was cooperating fully with authorities and hadn’t been arrested. He also denied reports Zazi’s laptop computer contained bomb-making diagrams and said the Aurora man hadn’t trained at a terrorism camp in Pakistan.
The FBI has been keeping track of Zazi and four others in Colorado for some time, according to an official familiar with the probe, the AP reports. The Daily News reports five Colorado men “cited as members of the cell” had been under 24-hour surveillance.
Concern about a possible plot has led to heightened security at airports nationwide, the Daily News reported Thursday.
** UPDATE **
Friday evening, the New York Times reported Zazi was cooperating with investigators and “providing federal agents with a volume of new information,” which could lead to “some kind of an agreement,” but that a plea agreement wasn’t imminent.
Mr. Zazi’s statements to government officials suggest a somewhat different narrative than the one he presented in interviews with reporters this week when he denied being affiliated with Al Qaeda and said he had no idea why the government would suspect him of wrongdoing. Indeed, there are now some indications that Mr. Zazi underwent training in explosives and bomb-making while overseas.